Warning! Spoilers for “The Walking Dead” below.
Welp. It was nice knowing ya, “Walking Dead.”
Though it’s only the third episode in the back half of Season 10, the latest installment of the AMC zombie saga seems like it’s the end. Titled “Morning Star,” the episode concludes with Daryl (Norman Reedus), Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and other fan favorites covered in flammable sap and pinned between the gates of Hilltop, which were set ablaze, and an incoming horde of zombies being directed by the Whisperer army.
“The episode felt like it could be a season finale,” director Michael Satrazemis told HuffPost.
The director explained how the final scenes, depicting the start of the battle between the Whisperers and the survivors at Hilltop, took a massive amount of planning. The logistics involved deciding exactly where the barriers would be against the incoming attack; coordinating the walkers; increasing the number of walkers through VFX; getting explosive bags of water to act like sap launched by the Whisperers; and implementing about 17 different fighting elements. And in order to capture the sheer devastation of what was going on, Satrazemis decided to have a quiet moment in the chaos.
The director said he wanted to pause for “a one-second thought” amid the frenetic pace of the scene.
“Everybody’s looking and connecting with each other and realizing that this is going to be more work than they could ever have thought, and realizing that it’s not going well,” he said, referring to Hilltop’s defense against the Whisperer attack. “The walls start cracking, [the horde] is pressing, they’re pushing through, and then everybody getting sapped up and realizing they’re all ignitable.”
And what should fans feel at that final moment when Daryl and the others are trapped?
“Helplessness,” said the director.
Oh, but surely there’s some way out?
“There’s no way out,” he said.
“Everybody’s been covered in sap and the Hilltop walls are on fire. I think it truly ends with a moment of hopelessness and a feeling that everybody’s doomed,” Satrazemis added.
And if you believe that upcoming episodes will slow things down, the director suggested otherwise.
“They’re equally as big as this. This back half is so huge, so massive, that I just hope that the fans are prepared,” he said.
Besides talking about the giant night battle, Satrazemis also gave HuffPost some insight into other major moments from the episode.
On Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) donning a Whisperer mask and acting like he’s one of them now:
“Looks like he’s hanging pretty tight. He fired one of those arrows, I think that’s the impression you gotta take out of that.”
On Judith (Cailey Fleming) fixing a wing on Daryl’s vest:
“When she gave him the jacket with the new wing, it was something special and that was something that Cailey did on her own. We had her draw it and design it and decorate it because I just thought it was cool to come from her. And she talked to Norman and they had conversations about doing it ... That’s truly her.”
On Rosita (Christian Serratos) telling Eugene (Josh McDermitt) to kiss her — before he backs out at the last second:
“That was Rosita trying to show Eugene that he really does like [Stephanie, the mysterious woman on the radio]. And then being a little upset that he wouldn’t go for it.”
On Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel talking about his cancer and being together one last time:
“That was a heavy, beautiful scene, and I think it’s just two people that were once in love that now have fallen apart, but still deeply care for each other. Just having that moment knowing that they may not make it back out, but wanting to let each other know that they care.”
Also, where is Daryl’s dog, who hasn’t been in recent episodes:
“I don’t know. He wasn’t in the episode.”
OK, as long as he’s safe:
“Yeah. I know. Anytime you touch any of the animals, they come for you.”